Evolution of Sexual Dimorphism


About me

Iulia Darolti

Department of  Zoology

University of British Columbia

Vancouver BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada


I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, working on the evolution of sex chromosomes and of sex-biased gene expression in Judith Mank's lab at The University of British Columbia.



PhD in Evolutionary Biology, University College London

Advisor: Prof Judith Mank


BSc (Hons) Zoology (1st Class), The University of Manchester

Dissertation advisor: Dr John Fitzpatrick

Research and travel grants


BBSRC Travel Grant, UCL

Conference contributions


Oral Presentation, Evolution Conference, Providence USA

Oral Presentation, The Evolution of Cooperation and Conflict Symposium, Uppsala Sweden


Co-organiser of symposium on Mate Preferences and Mating Systems & Poster presentation, 2nd Joint Congress on Evolutionary Biology, Montpellier France


Poster presentation, ESEB, Groningen The Netherlands


Oral presentation, EMPSEB, Gotland Sweden

Invited reviewer

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, PLoS Genetics, Molecular Biology and Evolution, Genome Biology and Evolution


Science outreach


Speaker at the London Soapbox Science event

Soapbox Q&A blog



Under construction

The evolution of sexual dimorphism

Despite sharing the majority of their genome, males and females of the same species often show a wealth of phenotypic differences, affecting morphology, physiology, behavior and life history, among other traits. I am broadly interested in how sex-specific evolutionary pressures shape distinct male and female phenotypes. In some species, the two sexes differ by their sex chromosomes, and sex-limited (Y or W) genes partly explain the observed sexual dimorphism. To a large extent, however, sex differences are encoded by genes that are shared between males and females but that are expressed differently in the two sexes (sex-biased genes). In my research, I integrate genomic and transcriptomic data to explore the evolution of sex chromosomes and of sex-biased gene expression and their role in sexual dimorphism.



google scholar


7. Darolti I, Wright AE, Sandkam BA, Morris J, Bloch NI, Farré M, Fuller RC, Bourne GR, Larkin DM, Breden F, Mank JE (2019) Extreme heterogeneity in sex chromosome differentiation and dosage compensation in livebearersProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116:19031.

6. Farré M, Li Q, Darolti I, Zhou Y, Damas J, Proskuryakova AA, Kulemzina AI, Chemnick LG, Kim J, Ryder OA, Ma J, Graphodatsky AS, Zhang G, Larkin DM, Lewin, HA (2019) An integrated chromosome-scale genome assembly of the Masai giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi)GigaScience 8:giz090.

5. Wright AE, Darolti I, Bloch NI, Oostra V, Sandkam B, Buechel SD, Kolm N, Breden F, Vicoso B and Mank JE (2019) On the power to detect rare recombination eventsProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116:12607.



4. Morris J, Darolti I, Bloch NI, Wright AE, Mank JE (2018) Shared and species-specific patterns of nascent Y chromosome evolution in two guppy speciesGenes 9:238.

3. Fox G, Darolti I, Hibbitt JD, Preziosi RF, Fitzpatrick JL, Rowntree JK (2018) Bespoke markers for ex-situ conservation: application, analysis and challenges in the assessment of a population of endangered undulate raysJournal of Zoo and Aquarium Research 6:50-56.

2. Darolti I, Wright AE, Pucholt P, Berlin S and Mank JE (2018) Slow evolution of sex-biased genes in the reproductive tissue of the dioecious plant S. viminalisMolecular Ecology 27:694–708.



1. Wright AE, Darolti I, Bloch NI, Oostra V, Sandkam B, Buechel SD, Kolm N, Breden F, Vicoso B and Mank JE (2017) Convergent recombination suppression suggests a role of sexual conflict in guppy sex chromosome formationNature Communications 8:14251.



I am very grateful for my PhD research funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council through the London Interdisciplinary Doctoral Programme.